A vapour trail of girly giggles follows the old wooden cart as Dad pushes it down the slope of Grandma’s yard. Our tiny hands grip the rough weathered sides of our carriage, in readiness for another round.
“Go again Dad! I squeal.
Yeah, go again!” my sister yells as we slow down along the back of the house.
“Okay,” Dad replies. “Hold on tight.”
With all my might, I grip the sides of the cart, bracing myself for the uphill run. Wrapping his hands around the long timber handles, Dad’s legs run fast and hard, as he embarks on another round of Grandma’s yard. The iron wheels creak as they jerk around the front corner of the house onto level ground, inertia forces our small frames to bounce from right to left and back again.
Straightening up, we brace ourselves as the far corner of the house looms near. Dad drops speed as he carefully steers the cart around the corner stump and we once again squeal with joy, as we roll downhill, whizzing past the big green mango tree that shades the side fence and screeches to a stop just short of the old chicken coop in the back of Grandma’s yard.
Our cart rides were our favourite part of our Sunday visits to Grandma Lyons’ house. We knew to behave during our visits as we daren’t be deprived of our joyous rides in what was really an old wheelbarrow. Once the tea and scones had been devoured, and the heat of the sun had subsided into the coolness of late afternoon, we would follow Grandma out into the garden. She’d water her plants whilst we toured her yard in the back of the cart. I am forever thankful that Dad captured my memories of those afternoons in Grandma’s garden on his movie camera.
Like a movie star, Grandma slowly descends the grand front staircase of her house. Her wispy white hair tucked up under that elegant wide-brimmed hat she kept on her bedside chair. Stepping off the bottom tread, she strikes a pose and looks at the camera for a brief moment. Then she turns to pick up a garden hose and proceeds to shower her flowers with water before fading into movie land oblivion. Little did we know that those few scratchy frames of film would be the last captured moments of Grandma, the living moving person.
One Sunday in 1967, my two sisters and I waved goodbye to our Great Grandmother from the back seat of the car. Our bellies were full of scones and jam; our heads still spinning from the exhilaration of our cart ride fun. We were blissfully unaware that the door to Grandma’s long life was about to close forever. That day came in August of that year, when Mum and Dad received a phone call to say that Grandma had passed away.
Although the door closed to our visits to Grandma, our Sunday visits to her house continued. Grandma’s passing would bring the closure of only one chapter of my family story. With age comes curiosity and so our continued visits would, over the years, breathe life into a story that for most part had been hidden away behind closed doors. As those old doors parted, they released chapters of her life that perhaps Grandma was happy to suppress.